Suffolk Punch bid backed by royalty
A CHARITY has received royal backing in its bid to raise more than £3million to safeguard the future of the world famous Suffolk Punch horse.HRH The Princess Royal pledged her support to the Suffolk Punch Trust after it emerged that it only has 10 months to save the Colony stud at Hollesley near Woodbridge.
A CHARITY has received royal backing in its bid to raise more than £3million to safeguard the future of the world famous Suffolk Punch horse.
HRH The Princess Royal pledged her support to the Suffolk Punch Trust after it emerged that it only has 10 months to save the Colony stud at Hollesley near Woodbridge.
The group has until August 31, 2005 to raise enough money to buy the existing facility and 180 acres of land otherwise the Prison Service, which has run stud for 66 years, may sell its 20 Suffolk Punch horses.
This would mark the end of an era at the site, which is seen as crucial to the rare breed's future.
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In a letter that appears in the charity's publicity leaflet, The Princess Royal outlines the facilities that a new centre would provide and urges people across the country to support the project.
"The Colony Stud of Suffolk Punch Horses has been maintained at Hollesley Bay for over 100 years," she said.
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"It has been run by the Prison Service since 1938 and today is the oldest and largest stud of this very special and rare breed of heavy working horse.
"The Suffolk Punch Trust has the opportunity to purchase the horses and a farm from the Prison Service at Hollesley Bay and then to maintain and enlarge the stud in a purpose-built set of buildings open to the public.
"I hope you will support this important project which embraces such a wide range of activities."
The new facilities at the £3.25million development would include an education and heritage centre, a visitor centre with restaurant and toilets, stables, covered exhibition ring, working areas and paddocks for the horses and 199 car parking spaces.
Prisoners from the nearby open prison will be employed and there will be rural craft shops including a farrier, saddle maker, wheelwright and blacksmith.
John Marsh, project manager, added: "We are very pleased to have the Princess Royal's backing.
"As patron of the Suffolk Horse Society I think it shows how strongly she feels about the Suffolk Punches in particular.
"The core activity of the centre will be managing the stud's horses and maintaining other rare breeds of animal indigenous to Suffolk, but we also hope to promote and deliver a wide range of educational programmes.
"We will work very closely with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to provide education in environmental, conservation and heritage topics."
The trust starts its public fundraising appeal on November 10 and should have to raise around £600,000 by itself, after applying for grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Development Enterprise scheme.